Computer Coloured Monochrome

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Darwin4975
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Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by Darwin4975 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:08 pm

Members of this Forum may be interested in the attached image of No 4488 Union of South Africa seen at York in January 1938. At that time, colour photography did exist but was in its infancy and the results were variable and often rather poor.
This is a high quality picture, but it is not a colour photograph. It is a coloured photograph. To be precise it is a CCM (computer coloured monochrome) image and is of a type which has recently featured in the historical railway press.

To produce a CCM image, all one needs is a suitable black and white photograph or negative, a scanning machine, a computer and the appropriate software needed to work on the digital image. One also needs the practical ability to accurately add colour to pixels in such a way that a complete colour picture is obtained. The expertise is obviously essential but knowledge of exactly which colours to use is equally if not more important. The object is to recreate as far as possible the scene which would have been observed by the original photographer through the viewfinder of the camera. There is of course a heavy responsibility to ‘get it right’ especially if the finished image is to be seen in public. Careful and extensive research is obligatory.

Almost all historical railway colour transparencies were taken on small format film such as 35mm which is not capable of being enlarged to any significant extent before the limit of resolution is exceeded and the image loses clarity. CCM gets around this problem by starting with a large format negative. The picture of No 4488 seen here began as a 9cm x 6cm negative. The resulting CCM enlarges to 60 x 42 cm (A2 size) with no loss of clarity and remains pin sharp.

What are your views on this new development in historical railway imagery? Anyone who would like to see more of the same should consider buying the January 2014 issue of Steam Days Magazine published by Key Publishing which will be on sale in mid December. A 2014 Calendar given away with that issue has 15 CCM pictures including one for each calendar month.

For further information on CCM colour, visit the Transport Treasury.
Attachments
4488 York '38.jpg

JASd17
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by JASd17 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:52 pm

I am most impressed with the image you have created.

However a good deal of the key colours were of necessity introduced, therefore they are an opinion, not a fact. However convincing, that remains the case. If the picture is of the time of year you suggest it would not look like that, even late in January. Have you considered exactly, I really mean exactly, where it is taken and at which time of day. You will need both of these facts to be remotely accurate. Some 1930s photographers supplied this information, many did not.

I think it might be a tool which can be used to interpret Black and white pictures, of the correct quality.

What you have created is in effect a black and white photo with cartoon colours, but I wish you luck with your interpretations.

John

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richard
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by richard » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:50 am

It might make occasional nice photos but I think it is of limited use in modelling.

Seems a bit of a gimmick - like colorised movies.
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by LNER Fan 60008 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:30 am

Interesting concept. Did you complete the rest of the photo's colouring, or is this all that's complete for now?
ooOOOo-oooo--o-o-----o-o-o-o---------o-o-o-o--------o-o

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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by giner » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:37 am

It does seem there'd be a strange light in the original photo. Clearly a winter's day, probably showery given the puddles and what looks to be some light cloud with some faint blue sky showing through. I'm not sure how that is ascertained from a black and white photo. It could be varying shades of grey, yet there is a shadow. But the short shadow at the front of the loco is a bit odd though, since, if it is a winter day, even at midday the shadow wouldn't be that short.

Colour-wise, I think it makes an acceptable photo. The colour used for reference in manipulation is paramount and the variations discussed in earlier threads on what is the correct shade are many, but for general illustration purposes in publications your photo works just fine.

Darwin4975
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by Darwin4975 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:32 pm

The original photograph was taken on 30th January 1938 when the sun will have been very low in the sky even at mid-day. This of course would be expected to produce long shadows. The image seen here has been in no way altered other than by addition of colour so the shortness of the shadow must find an explanation in other ways.
Last edited by Darwin4975 on Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Darwin4975
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by Darwin4975 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 2:47 pm

I appreciate the comments received though the term 'cartoon' has derisory connotations that do little justice to the work involved. CCM is a potentially explosive mixture which may not suit some tastes but the alternative is to wallow in an endless diet of regurgitated 'genuine' colour transparencies usually enlarged to a size beyond their limits of resolution. We must also remember that they too were not infallible in terms of colour rendition. If the die-hards have their way, scenes which predate colour photography will never be seen in colour despite the fact that data is available which would enable a colour reconstruction. E F Carter's Britain's Railway Liveries (1952) is a trusted resource of information.

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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by jwealleans » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:30 pm

Is this software sensitive enough to pick out red lining on a black loco from the monochrome original?

Darwin4975
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by Darwin4975 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:36 pm

Regarding red lining the problem lies not in the software but in the original panchromatic film which is extremely insensitive to red. Even though the thin red line may have been visible to the photographer, panchromatic film would be blind to it (though orthochromatic film would have seen it well -but blind to other colours). This is a problem also in the black and white print (no white/grey line where the red line would be.) If no line is visible in the b/w print then no red line can be inserted as there is nothing to act as guide. This red blindness is well seen in monochrome photos of ex-works locomotives, where the buffer-beam often shows up as light grey or even off-white in extreme cases.

mr B
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by mr B » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:47 pm

very nice and handy bit of 'kit' ,

but hand drawn Disney cartoon classics are far superior to modern day Disney computerised features .


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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by JASd17 » Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:03 pm

I was told many years ago that Carter was not always a reliable source.

John

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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by Iron Duke » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:21 pm

To me this is wonderful stuff, it brings the subject to life and adds a new perspective to railway images from times gone by.
I would like to see more of this, is the software available (and affordable)...?

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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by Trestrol » Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:53 pm

LNERCA had a photo coloured of a third class convertible sleeper compartment. It was done blind without any reference to colours and came out very well. even down to the blue blankets. 60044 would be the best person to explain.

Darwin4975
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by Darwin4975 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:16 pm

2836, 8837 detail.jpg
For the benefit of those who would like to see more of what can be achieved I shall be adding further images in the coming weeks. What you are seeing is just an opinion of how the scene looked at the time but has been arrived at carefully and with due research. Had the picture been taken on colour film there is absolutely no guarantee that the result would render the colours accuarately, so transparencies cannot take the moral high ground on this issue. Where computer coloured monochrome has something new to offer is the ability to produce a colour picture in large size which is also very sharp. This is not possible with the vast majority of 35mm photographs. The picture shown here printed in size A2 is impressive.
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2836, 8837.jpg
Pre-war Norwich express with B17 Harlaxton Manor and D16/3.

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strang steel
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Re: Computer Coloured Monochrome

Post by strang steel » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:52 pm

Now that is a wonderful effort. Thanks very much.

I understand that it might not be a totally correct representation of the shades those boys would have seen from the footbridge (but who can guarantee that the precise colour that I see, is the same as anyone else sees?), but it sure gives me a window into the past.

I can now begin to appreciate the scenes that my father would have taken for granted, rather than just try to imagine the colours of a b/w image (if that makes sense). With incremental increases in computing power, how long before shots such as this can be reproduced with regard to perspective, and repeated for the subject matter moving past the camera position? Hey presto, a computer generated LNER era colour "movie".

Will I live long enough to be able to don my video headset, select a year and location from the menu, and watch a computer generated sequence of video footage in widescreen format which fools my brain into believing that I am actually watching the real thing? (Or at least as close a representation as we can ever get from the evidence available).

As long as this is done with as much historical accuracy as possible, and leaving the "Hollywood" element out, then I am all for it.

Excellent.
John

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